To date, investigators have said they only have one person of interest. What do we know about Jerry and his past?
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Welcome to Secrets True Crime. I am your host, Amber Sitton. What is done in darkness will eventually come to light. That is the purpose of this podcast...to shine light on the story of Susan Osborne and her 14 year old son Evan Chartrand. They vanished from their home in the tiny Alabama community of Holtville on Memorial Day in 2017. They haven't been seen or heard from since and their bodies have not been found. This is episode 7 of a serial podcast with each episode building upon the previous. If you have not listened to Episodes 1 through 6, please stop and listen to it first or you probably won’t understand what’s happening in this episode. Listener discretion is advised. This episode does contain some mildly foul language and the subject matter may involve violence, sexual content, murder and adult themes. It’s not suitable for younger listeners. If you know or have known Jerry or knew Susan after she was married to Jerry, I want to hear from you. Someone knows something. Information you may think is small or insignificant could make a difference in this case and you can remain anonymous. firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are going to discuss Jerry Osborne quite a bit in this episode. I want to reiterate that Jerry Osborne has maintained his innocence. To my knowledge, he still claims that Susan and Evan left their home with another man.
I spoke to a woman that grew up around Jerry. We are calling her Heather as she’d rather not be identified. Just to be clear, she knows Jerry will know who she is and she is ok with that but she doesn’t want to be publicly identified. She and Jerry both were raised in the tiny little town of Eclectic, Alabama. Eclectic is also located in Elmore County is about 18 miles from where Jerry and Susan lived in Holtville. As of 2017, the town population is 1,020. Heather told me that she went to school with Jerry. When she was older, she had a boyfriend that lived next door the Jerry. Her boyfriend’s mom would force them to spend time with Jerry and give him rides back and forth to school and football practice. She told me she was not surprised when Jerry found himself the only person of interest in his wife and stepson’s disappearance. She described going through Jerry’s backpack one day and finding what she called a “hit list.”
He was just weird. I mean, you know, you just get that vibe about somebody. I got that vibe about him. Even back then, like there was a gut feeling that told me there's something off with this person
Because he was just that type of person that like I, he was not, he was not the sweet, kind person that I guess he was presenting to you, everybody else. He had a streak about him a long time ago that you could see that just was just dark, I guess would be the best word for it. He just was that type of person that you knew it was going to snap at any moment because of how much he got picked off. Let's go. You just didn't know when I went off on their hit list, I told her boyfriend on his life, I don't want to take him to school
anymore. I was like, it's just weird. I mean who writes out a hit list of all these people that don't need to be on the face of the earth? I mean they were people on there that were like his ex best friend, a guy named Chris. Um, he's ex best friend was on there. There are a couple of people that were in classes younger than us. Most of them were older than us and there were a few people in there from our class that were like some of the popular kids in school. And, and I told my boyfriend, I was like, this is, I mean like this is beyond him just being weird and this is like taking it to a whole new level. I was like, I feel like we should tell, you know, your mom tell, you know, his mom tells somebody, he's like, oh, you know how people are, you know?
And whenever they're in school he gets picked on a lot. So he probably does have a list. Is he actually going to carry it out? Probably not. And the whole time I'm thinking, yeah, one day he might like, you just never know how you could push somebody to that point.
While Heather did find the hit list she found to be quite alarming, she reminded me that this was before Columbine and the many school shootings that followed it. School shootings were really still unheard of during this time. Even though she was concerned, she was a kid and wasn’t sure if her reaction to what she found was reasonable.
it was just, when I say we were forced to be friends with him, we were basically forced. I mean my boyfriend's mom kept saying, you know, y'all should be nice to him. Jerry doesn't have very many friends at school.
my opinion, have any friends. But he's, he's weird. I was like, and when you do try to carry, he's just that awkward type of person that when to try to carry on a conversation with him. He was like one of those know it alls. Yeah. Like you couldn't talk to him because he knew everything. He could cut you off. I mean he would just, he knew everything and you just didn't use it and tell him that he was wrong because you could just see his face just turned bright red and just a shriek of anger come over his face. He never would let it out, but you could always see it. You could just see him just get irritated. It would last maybe about 10 seconds and then it was gone. It's weird.
Heather’s boyfriend’s family had a pool. All the kids from the neighborhood would come over to swim in the pool and all were welcomed including Jerry. Jerry would often show up in his swim trunks with a towel and would just go straight to the pool. Heather said this was fine with her boyfriend’s mom until one of them walked outside one night and found Jerry swimming in the pool alone and no one knew he was there. She thinks that the woman asked that in the future Jerry’s mom not let him come at night.
Heather was also in the Air Force and she encountered Jerry at Maxwell Air Force Base. She said she spoke to him and he was just as weird then as she remembered him being in school.
When I met with the investigators from the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office, they told me that at this time, Jerry Osborne is the only person of interest in the disappearance of Susan and Evan. I wanted to know as much as possible about Jerry and I’ve spoken to many people now who know him. Jerry was in the United States Air Force Security Forces. According to the air force website, security forces are responsible for missile security, defending air bases around the globe, law enforcement on those bases, combat arms and handling military working dogs. To sum it up, Security Forces are the force protection and military police of the air force. I’ve been speaking to one of Jerry’s former commanding officers and he worked with Jerry from 2004-2007. He wants to remain anonymous so we will call him Mike. Mike told me that Jerry seemed like a normal nice enough guy but he always seemed stressed out. He said Jerry worked in the training/mobility section during the post 9/11 deployment frenzy. He described him as sweaty, jittery, and a smoker. Sweaty and jittery are words that have come up over and over again from many different people as they’ve described Jerry to me. Mike said Jerry was friendly enough but said he didn’t have a close group of friends and he kept to himself outside of work. He said he never talked about his personal life. Mike told me that the training for Security Forces includes weapons handling, basic hand to hand, entry control, partrolman duties, air base defense, and military police. He said Jerry working in the training/mobility section was a secondary task within the unit with no specialized school required. He said you have to be selected to fill these positions and everything is done with on the job training. Mike did confirm that Jerry received law enforcement training as part of his technical training for Security Forces. I found a document online that appears to be the curriculum outline for Security Forces. Some of the technical core classes listed are Criminal Investigations, Criminal Law, Fundamentals of Law Enforcement, Police Administration & Supervision, and the Principles of Criminal Justice. Heather described it to me like this:
the basic amount of security forces training that they have is, I mean there's basic police work, they go through the same kind of police academy type thing that your videos are only, there's a little bit more significant because it's strictly to the banks. I mean they're just like your regular police officers, only their base and police officers, they write two tickets, they investigate crimes that happened. Um, sometimes they even work with the office of special investigators Osass which are like the detectives or the Air Force only their like civilian type people.
If you’ll remember, we heard from forensic expert Mark Gillespie in Episode 5. Ironically, Mark was a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. I took the opportunity to ask his thoughts on the training Jerry likely received in the Air Force.
Mark: 1:04:10 Here’s a security police 101 class. Security police in the air force are charged with the primary response of what’s called air base ground defense. Take a deployment, take an overseas operation, Iraq, Siria, Afganistan, Honduras, wherever. Wherever military assets are going to be deployed and a base is going to be set up, the security police are responsible for securing the perimeter, controlling who comes in who comes out, who goes in who goes out, and making sure the base is safe. It’s kinda like building a wall so to speak. All security police personel are trained in weapons whether it be like AR15, M16 and a 9 mm handgun. It doesn’t mean they are experts, it’s their duty weapon. 99.9% probably have never fired a gun in actual real life situations but they do a lot of training. A very small percentage of security police are involved in investigative activity. Another small percentage, well I should say small. Less than 50% I’d say are in charge of patrolling the base, making sure that, kind of like a neighborhood watch, kind of like mall security. They drive around in a marked unit. Based on what you’ve told me, it doesn’t sound like he was in an investigations unit. There’s a rivalry amongst security policeman. So if you are run of the mill security police person, you are very jealous of those in SPI, security police investigations. It’s the Security Police Investigators that have a big goal of becoming OSI special agents which is what I was. So there’s a big rivalry between SPI and security police patrol officers, does that make sense? There’s a, I’d have to see his record to find out exactly what he was trained in, exactly what his duties were, but as far as being a skilled investigator, I would say he’s not but I’d have to look at his record to be sure.
I spoke to Susan’s mom, Linda Anklam. The circumstances didn’t allow me to record the audio of her story. She told me that during her trip to visit Susan on Mother’s Day just a couple weeks before Susan and Evan disappeared, she had a conversation with Jerry one day. She said he told her he had a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder and that he has to take a lot of medication for it. He told her if he didn’t take his medication, he’d be jumping all over the place. She described him holding his hands out for her to show her how his hands tremble. Linda only met Jerry 4 times so she didn’t know him that well and it surprised her that he shared all this information with her. She described Jerry as very high strung.
He told her that during his deployment to Iraq, his tank was hit by an IED. Hollie told me that Susan related that Jerry had a traumatic brain injury from this event and it wasn’t too long afterwards that he received a medical discharge. You may also remember that Evan referenced this event when he posted the incredibly sweet tribute to Jerry on his instagram on Veteran’s Day. The photo was of a US flag with soldiers superimposed over it. It said Veterans Day Remember All Who Served. Evan wrote “Happy Veterans Day. Thanks for everything you have done in the military dad!” He then added a comment to the post that said “Even though he hates today because it reminds him being blown up in iraq and seeing all his comrades die.”
Right after I chose the case of Susan and Evan for this podcast, I began to look for any traces of them online and in social media. Facebook is often used as a place to memorialize loved ones who’ve been lost and also a place where people post to and about missing loved ones. I quickly found Susan had a Facebook page. Of course, we aren’t friends on Facebook so I assumed I couldn’t see all her posts but I could see a few generic posts. Later, after I was well involved in researching their case, I went back to Susan’s facebook page. While it was still there, it appeared that every single post had disappeared. I asked Hollie and Melissa if they knew what happened and inquired if one of Susan’s family members was now controlling her Facebook account.
I don't know if anybody is. Yeah, I know holly instead of post had been deleted. So I'm assuming Jerry has gotten into there somehow. No, none of us have been in there. I'm thinking because I know holly mentioned it, that there was one that was deleted and since I was in it, but I think it would have to be him because none of us have the ability to get in there.
Hollie told me that as Susan’s friend she she could still see Susan’s posts however, she’d noticed that one of Susan’s posts had disappeared. She described a post Susan had made exactly 2 weeks before she and Evan disappeared. After they disappeared, Hollie recalled the post so she found it again and took a screenshot. It was a photo of a man in a boat fishing on a lake. It said “I’d rather struggle every day of my life than to ever give someone else the power to say “you wouldn’t have that if it wasn’t for me.” Why would Jerry delete that post? Could it be just another attempt to cover up what was happening to Susan? I heard a woman from a domestic violence organization speak this week and one of the things she mentioned that controlling finances is something that can be used as a weapon and can be a form of abuse. In hindsight, this is a very powerful and meaningful post by Susan. Her family told me that police recovered documents written by Jerry complaining of the money that Susan and her children cost him. I was told there were specific complaints regarding paying child support for Susan’s daughter. Jerry certainly knew at the time he proposed to Susan and when he married her that she had to pay child support. Then he even encouraged her to quit her job to be a stay at home mom. We also know that after he convinced her to quit her job, she no longer had free access to the finances and she was put on a budget. He didn’t allow her accept her inheritance and also wouldn’t allow her to accept the money left to her children. Susan was also entitled to some money from her father’s social security however she never applied to receive the funds. Why marry someone knowing full well they have these financial obligations and have them quit their job to just complain about it later? Everytime I think back to this, it makes the fact that Jerry continued to pay child support to Jay well after Susan’s disappearance even stranger to me. Presumably, the only person with access to Susan’s facebook account would be Jerry.
Remember that it’s been mentioned a couple times how Jerry would give Susan money when she was upset about something and tell her to go buy herself a dress? That might give you the impression that Susan really liked dresses. It would just make sense, right? When my husband suggests that I go buy something special, it’s always something that I like a lot. Unfortunately, that really wasn’t the case with Susan and Jerry.
Missy: 1:04:55 another one that goes back to him being very controlling, he always wanted her to wear dresses
was she was not really address person. Um, but she always wanted her to be in dresses, always wanted air done and her nails done at all times. Um, and stuff like that to portray the perfect family.
So while Jerry was placing ads on craigslist advertising his services, he was making sure his wife was dressed just right to play the part of that perfect family. All the while, he was placing personal ads offering sexual services in exchange for money, buying countless numbers of burner phones to coordinate his rendezvous and for quite awhile, living a lie with his unsuspecting family. We’ve talked about the shocking ad that Susan found on boyscort.com but we haven’t discussed the details of the craigslist emails Susan discovered. Those were the communications that were happening at the time Susan found them. In other words, these things were happening while Susan and Jerry were married and not years before like the boyscort ad. Susan sent Hollie a photo of a phone with the inbox for an email account open and displayed on the screen. You can read just a handful of words in the subject line and body of each email. It also shows how many total emails are in each communication string. People who place personal ads often use acronyms so that it is clearly stated what exactly they are seeking. I’ll share the meaning of a couple as we go through these emails. Jerry was communicating with a man named Billy. They’d emailed back and forth 15 times. The subject line was “Tuesday night - M4M.” M4M is the common acronym for a Man seeing a man. You can also read part of the body of the email which says “Really enjoyed last night. Would lo”. I would guess the lo is the word love. The date on these messages was 9/15/15. Another communication with a different individual has the subject line “nice shot dude” and the body of the email says “you still looking, man.” This email is also dated 9/15/15 and there are 5 emails in that string. Another received email says “hot as hell ass man, looks like co” and the body of the email says “I’m free after 7. Can you host?” This was a common phrase in the craigslist personals. It basically means can I come to your place. Most of the time if the person cannot host, it is assumed the person either has a spouse, significant other or lives at home with parents. Then there are 6 emails back and forth from a man whose full name is displayed. It’s not as common of a name as Billy so I’ll leave it out. The subject says “looking for a top for Tuesday.” I’m just not going to explain that one. If you really want to know, feel free to google the phrase what does looking for a top mean on craigslist and you’ll find your answer. The body of the last email simply says “hey”.
Hollie has told me that at first when Susan discovered some of Jerry’s secrets, she was in shock and denial. Susan would have experienced a range of emotions that are familiar to those who have been betrayed by a significant other: devastation, hurt, embarrassment, fear, despair, anger. I’d also say it’s a safe bet that she was feeling trapped and very alone. She’d given up her career, no longer had a vehicle in her name and was relying on Jerry for health insurance for both her and her children. It appeared Jerry had definitely helped put some distance between Susan and her family. Susan did confide in Hollie but she admittedly didn’t tell her everything. When Susan sent Hollie the email with the link to the boyscort.com ad, they emailed back and forth discussing it.
I asked her to wow, that is crazy. I said, does he know that you know, and she's a, like I said, I have a watch. So she was telling me she had a lot more information than the sun. Yes. She's a do your research before you say I do. I did. And still married a freak of nature. And, and that was the email strings back and forth on January second, 2016.
This wasn’t the only time that Susan mentioned to Hollie that she had discovered much more. Fortunately, she did share some of Jerry’s secrets with Hollie but what else had Susan discovered that she wasn’t sharing? I believe Susan was being truthful when she said there was much more and that it was possibly bad enough that she couldn’t bring herself to tell even her very best friend.
Susan and Evan disappeared just for Evan’s 15th birthday. Evan was a teenager and a smart one at that. As I learned more about them, I wondered how much Evan knew. We know there was a lot of turmoil in their lives. You might be able to hide some of it from a young child but I’m not sure you could hide it from a young man of Evan’s age.
even pretty much knew most everything she can. She confided in as in you all of that. It was everyone was very mature for his age. He said it was sweet as can be, but he was very mature for his age and he knew a lot for his age. He would, he would pick up on things. But, and she told me, she said, she said I'm not replied to me. And she said no, he lives in St Household. And she said yes, I'll get Kim to watch out. And um, you know, so they had gardens and everything and she said, and that's one reason why I should take him to Margaret practicing to on the field because she said I want to make sure that he knows how to protect himself also if need be. And,
and I told student whatever, do not leave. Definitely. And it was a big kid for his age too. So it's like if, if given the opportunity and if, if the situation however it was that this was done, I think it hasn't been taken them by surprise where they couldn't have fought back. It could have been asleep or didn't have their gardens near than whatever. So they couldn't talk back.
Hollie told me there were many guns in Susan and Jerry’s home. Hollie had seen a lot of the guns during a visit to their home and she listed some of the ones she remembered seeing: an AR15, a Colt 45 revolver, a 3030, a 380, and a 9 mm. While she didn’t see these, she was told about a rifle similar to the AR that she described as a sniper style rifle, a 20 guage and a 12 guage shot gun and a 45 semi automatic pistol.
You’ve heard from Nikki in previous episodes. She lived in the same neighborhood as Jerry, Susan and Evan at the time of their disappearance. She told me that while she heard that they were friends with a couple who lived outside and across the street from the neighborhood and Jerry’s home, Jerry and Susan kept to themselves otherwise. She said she never saw Susan or Evan and other than the neighbor I mentioned, she isn’t aware of anyone that ever had any real interaction with anyone in the Osborne household. Other people I’ve spoken to have told me the same. None of the neighbors really knew them and Jerry had never made an effort to talk to the neighbors. Until after Susan and Evan disappeared that is. Nikki shared an interesting story that a friend of hers told her, another neighbor. I am choosing to bleep out her name.
I had gained close relationships with other people in the neighborhood and they actually had direct interaction with him right after the disappearance, although they did not know that, um, Susie and Evan, you know, had disappeared but they had interaction, interaction. Yeah. And the day after, I'm a lady by the name of Karen,
was walking her dog and Jerry said, hey, and waved at her. And she had never spoken with him before. Um, and she, she didn't ask about Susie or Evan, but he said, I'm Susie and I haven't, or inside they've got the flu or Strep, they've got strapped. And Karen's like thinking, well I didn't, I didn't even ask, you know, like, so he was almost like already trying to set up that they were still there and at that point they had already been gone. Like they were not in the home. Um, we didn't know. You know, you just think he's kind of weird. You don't really think anything else of it.
The Karen says that she went back on her fitbit and it looked to be from the date they're saying that there was last contact at the end of May. the day after they disappeared, he was saying they were in the house and had strep throat. And when Karen started going back to really see date-wise when that was her fitbit showed that she had walked to the most mileage, like are the most steps and that was going all the way to the end of the neighborhood because she lived close to us and she said that was, that would have been the day after they actually disappeared.
I’ve had many people describe Jerry’s relationship with his parents as close, particularly his relationship with his mom. Nikki started watching Jerry’s home after she became aware of Susan and Evan’s disappearance. She became familiar with the vehicles and people that would come and go. She told me that even though Jerry’s parents lived just a short distance away, they would spend the night at Jerry’s home on a regular basis. She also said Jerry often drove his dad’s truck instead of his own.
And what I found so weird, his, his parents would come, they would, they helped him right after the disappearance when it was known. You know, cause she had been missing for like two months, but once everyone was like notified that hey, they're gone, his parents would come and help do yard work, like intense work several times after the disappearance. And then they would come stay almost every I want to s I'd have to look back, but it was maybe like on Wednesday or Thursday, they would stay every week at his house with him. Thank you. Um, and I just thought that was really, really weird. So I mean, he's a grown man.
Speaker 1: (06:49)
he would at times drive his parents truck. So I thought that was odd too, and there was really no reason, you know, for, I mean, I, it just didn't make sense. There was a lot of things that didn't make sense.
This week I had a comment on one of my posts on the Secrets True Crime facebook page. The person was reminding me that there are many forms of domestic violence. Ironically, this comment came through as I was on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website. They define domestic violence as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically. I have no doubt that Susan was a victim. As the commentor on my post pointed out, emotional and psychological abuse are just as serious as physical violence. I was looking at the crime statistics on their website and found some interesting albeit very heartbreaking statistics. According to their website, 1 in 3 female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. An abuser’s access to a firearm increases the risk of intimate partner femicide by 400%. A study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of victims were family members or friends of the abused partner, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. Sadly, I believe it is too late for Susan and Evan but if you are listening to this podcast and any of this sounds like things you are experience, please get help. There are so many resources available for you. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Thank you for listening to Secrets True Crime. If you have any information that could help in solving the disappearance of Susan Osborne and Evan Chartrand, please call the Elmore County Sheriffs Office at 334-567-5546. You may also email me at email@example.com. I want to say a very special thanks to those who have contacted me with information. Each of you has provided a tremendous amount of help. Not only am I appreciative but Susan and Evan’s families are so thankful as well. To those of you listening that have information and fear or something else is keeping you from reaching out, please just do it. Many like you already have and any information they’ve requested be kept private is and will continue to be kept that way. If you are enjoying this podcast, please let us know by giving us a 5-star rating and review in Apple Podcasts. I’m active on social media and often share photos of Susan and Evan. Follow Secrets True Crime on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. @secretscrime.